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Royal Quiet Deluxe, Chicken Band Reunion

August 20th, 2008 by Jeff Simmermon

Sometimes the Internet is nothing but a glowing wind tunnel filled with gas blasts from the intellectually obese. Even on the best days, the creatively flabby power this thing, gobbling information and repeating it with no regard for quality, just a quick hit of a familiar flavor in massive, constant quantities. Real insight can be a soap bubble lost in that hot, stinking howl.But not today. Today the Internet is a psychedelic sausage-grinder — feed stuff into it and turn the handle, and presto, flowers!

Let me settle down and explain.

A few weeks ago, both BoingBoing and Metafilter/MeFi Music linked to my story about the long-dead Royal Quiet Deluxe — b.k.a. “the chicken band.” This story was one that I’d prepared for The Moth, and never gotten to tell.

Twenty-four hours after posting, an old friend that I hadn’t heard from in ten years contacted me. He had what everyone thought was the only surviving copy of one of our performances on a dusty cassette — he ripped it to mp3 and sent it to me, and I posted it. A few days after that, I was contacted by one of the minds behind , a really, really fascinating podcast/radio show based in Mexico City, as near as I can tell. I don’t speak much Spanish.

I was finally able to get in touch with Tim after years of drift, and man, it was like no time at all had passed. The good news is, he’s got tons of old recordings, remixes, and other soundscapes we made way back then.

The better news is: we’re going to pursue performing in New York. If not at clubs and bars, in the subways. Chickens are easily available through botanicas here. The only catch so far is a place to keep them while we rehearse. If anyone wants to volunteer ideas or their apartment, send me the bat-signal through the Contact form above … I’ll keep you posted.

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“A Modern Promise” From Francis and the Lights

August 18th, 2008 by Jeff Simmermon

Francis Farewell Starlite

Musically, our culture has achieved singularity. Every song ever recorded is dripping off the tip of the Internet’s long tail and into the ears of anyone with headphones and an iTunes account. Bands like the Black Lips and Interpol do solid service to sounds past, and Girl Talk mashes old songs together to make something new. While New York’s Francis and the Lights has one foot rooted solidly in Prince’s synth-heavy ’80s output, the other foot is rhythmically shimmying its way straight into the future.

I’ve mentioned them here before, several times, with good reason. They’re one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen, in New York or anywhere else.

This video for “The Top,” from the new mini-album “A Modern Promise” just made me scream. It’s shot on 35mm, pops in a giant new Quicktime window. Compared to Youtube videos, this is Batman in IMAX, except funky. Click the dancing Francis after the jump to see for yourself:
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Worthy’s “Work the Walls”

August 12th, 2008 by Jeff Simmermon

I can’t get enough of “Work the Walls” by Bay-area DJ Worthy, and the video’s nearly perfect, too. The song itself chugs along like a relentless earworm chewing a funky tunnel right through my eardrums and deep into my soft, soft brain. It kind of reminds me of Yello’s “Oh Yeah,” and the video is a perfect throwback to the videos I grew up with — back when hair was high, effects were cheap and videos were about STYLE, not fashion. I love the grinning, creepy, surreal announcer and the whole enterprise feels like the sort of thing that only came on late at night, blasting through a wave of static.

The remix is pretty solid too. You can hear it here, though the screen stays black.

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G.I. Joe Meets ‘The Thing’: Zombie Zombie’s ‘Driving This Road Until Death Sets You Free’

July 25th, 2008 by Jeff Simmermon

Chocolate meets peanut butter. Lightning hits Frankenstein. Bonzo meets Page.

Every so often the universe conspires to bring together disparate awesome elements that combine into something so incredible that the brain’s pleasure centers hemorrhage with white, blinding joy. This video for Zombie Zombie’s “Driving This Road Until Death Sets You Free” is a deep soul tickle from God’s favorite finger. It’s an homage to John Carpenter’s “The Thing” — both the movie AND the soundtrack — reenacted with G.I. Joe figures. The song is rocking, repetitive and minimalist earworm, and the video, well … have a look for yourselves.

You can see a sharper, higher-res version here.

This would be one of the best scenes in Carpenter’s film, an absolute motherload of surprise, suspense, and incredible special effects.

It’s always cracked me up, the way that head skitters away like that. Happy Friday, friends.

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Furry Robots Bump Club Bangers: Muppets Gangster Rap, Showbiz Pizza Covers Usher

July 23rd, 2008 by Jeff Simmermon

Muppets performing gangster rap … it never, ever gets old for me. Here’s the Muppets doing M.O.P’s “Ante Up”:

More impressively, here’s the Showbiz Pizza furry robot house band performing Usher’s “Love In This Club”:

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Brainless Barnyard Keyboards: The Short Saga of Royal Quiet Deluxe, Chicken Band

July 17th, 2008 by Jeff Simmermon

This story appeared on here a while ago in a slightly different form. I’m working on it to perform at The Moth, but figured it would go okay on here …

The keyboard players in my band were spacier than Sun Ra, more abstract than John Coltrane and brought more sheer, squalid anarchy to the stage than GG Allin and the Sex Pistols combined. When they weren’t playing music they were either feeding, fighting, or shitting on the floor – and they managed to do a lot of that onstage, too. But they didn’t just act like barnyard animals, they were barnyard animals: the keyboard players in my band were two chickens named Kitty Wells and Patsy Cline.

ChickenKeyboards2

I played percussion on a modified vintage typewriter miked up loud enough to sound like the thunder of an angry God. At that volume, the space bar and shift keys rumbled like a kick drum, and the letter keys snapped like a tight snare. My friend Tim Gordon (the band’s other human being) played the guitar and bass semi-simultaneously, wearing the guitar up by his collarbone and the bass slung low at his hips – he’d loop the bass notes through a pedal and play rhythm guitar against himself while I thumped and cracked the typewriter. Once we hit a stride of sorts, we’d pull a blanket off the top of the cage where Kitty Wells and Patsy Cline sat with two little Casio Keyboards.
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Captain America as King Kong, Versus the Vampires. (On a Speeding Motorcycle.)

June 4th, 2008 by D.Billy

Online gallery & print store Dirty Pilot is currently featuring a set of wonderfully twisted Captain America-themed drawings by artist / musician / underground cultural icon Daniel Johnston on their site. Here are a couple of winners:

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Francis & the Lights at the Bowery Ballroom

May 16th, 2008 by Jeff Simmermon

Francis and the Lights remain my favorite Brooklyn band, Francis’ video-game etiquette aside.

They’re playing a show at the Bowery Ballroom in late June, and I HIGHLY recommend y’all go check them out. Here’s the info”

Francis and the Lights
at the Bowery Ballroom
Wednesday, June 25th
$12 in advance, $14 at the door
with ‘Heloise and the Savoir Faire’

Here’s a new-ish video clip from an in-studio performance, just for a taste:


“For Days” from Francis and the Lights on Vimeo.

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If You Don’t Stop and Look Around Once In A While, You Could Miss It

April 15th, 2008 by Jeff Simmermon

It starts with a simple, relentless drumbeat, punctuated with a catchy, almost tribal woodblock sound. Then the pulsing synth starts and you just feel the whole rollercoaster lurch away from your feet and you drop into a throat-hitching freefall, esophagus rippling while your heart screams with ecstasy.

It samples a bunch of the awesomest movies ever like Blade Runner, A Clockwork Orange, Scarface.

Maybe it sounds like steam rising off a jungle or a low, purple-red sun rising in a time-lapse movie of a highway jammed with traffic, fog burning away. It sounds like aerobics, but the cool kind. Like the aerobics in a montage from a very inspirational Hollywood movie about training to whip somebody’s ass in a dystopian future. There’s one thing that’s very clear about the hidden message in this song, though: there’s a great big busy productive world happening out there, and just for this one day, you want no part of it.

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My Heart’s On Fire

March 13th, 2008 by Jeff Simmermon

I don’t usually go in for the kind of horse hockey honkified “Eat, Pray, Love” neo-spiritual bullshit that most white people like to espouse, but I will tell you this: there is a truth in repetition, a transcendental peace we find when we repeat something familiar over and over and over. God reaches down and our hearts open up, our pores become doorways into the land beyond and all of everything vibrates with a delicious lavender hum.

That’s the truth I’ve come to anyway, and it is the exact reason that I’ve listened to “Elvira” by The Oak Ridge Boys 10 times in a row already this morning.

Go on, try it — after five repetitions or so each “mow mow” gives your SOUL a cosmic prostate massage …

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